Meet Iran’s potential next first ladies

Meet Iran’s potential next first ladies
  1. Meet Iran’s potential next first ladies
    Though some progress has been made since Iranian presidential candidate's wives first stepped into the campaign spotlight in 2009, they still do not fully participate in their husbands’ c…
    Middle Easte

The position and role of the first lady are not clearly defined in the political and social structure of Iran. Until the 2009 presidential vote, the wives of candidates did not even participate in election campaigns. Reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi was the first presidential candidate to campaign alongside his wife, Zahra Rahnavard. Breaking tradition, they appeared in front of photographers and reporters holding hands. At the time, Rahnavard was the first female professor at the College of Fine Arts, a position she was awarded in June 2008.

After Rahnavard’s appearance alongside her husband, then-incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also did some campaigning with his wife, Azam al-Sadat Farahi, who is a graduate of Iran University of Science and Technology. During Ahmadinejad’s eight years as president, Farahi accompanied her husband on some of his domestic and international travel and also visited charity organizations.

The trend continued in the 2013 presidential elections. Yet among all the wives, Hassan Rouhani’s wife is the least known. Neither her first nor last name were even mentioned in a report about the families of the candidates published by the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency four days before the election. After Rouhani became president, his wife’s name and a few other details about her found their way into the media, gleaned from Rouhani’s memoirs and interviews.

In a conversation included in Alireza Salavati's book "Siyasatmadaran-e-Javan" ("Young Politicians"), Rouhani says of his marriage, “My family insisted that I get married. I was about 20 years old. I got married in the year 1968. … My father was insistent and my mother was, too. I was not reluctant myself, either.”

Rouhani’s wife, Sahebeh Arabi, was born into a religious family in Semnan in 1954 and married her 20-year-old cousin when she was 14. Little is known about her educational background, and she does not participate in public political or social activities. The couple have three daughters and two sons. It is said that their oldest son, Mohammad, died in Rouhani’s home at the age of 19.

There are many rumors about the death. Hossein Mousavian, a member of the nuclear negotiation team during Mohammad Khatami’s presidency and close to Rouhani, claimed in a 2013 interview with Time magazine that Rouhani’s son was murdered in a political crime that was never solved, the killer never identified. Mousavian claimed that Rouhani investigated the murder for many years but eventually decided to stop pursuing it.

Rouhani and his family have yet to offer an official explanation for Mohammad’s death. However, during the past few days, after Mohammad was brought up by one of the websites that support Rouhani’s main rival, conservative candidate Ebrahim Raisi, a classmate of Mohammad’s at Farhang High School in Tehran (which admits exceptionally talented students), posted a note about Mohammad’s death on Instagram. Mehdi Yazdani Khorram, a writer and journalist who attended Mohammad’s 1997 funeral, wrote about his old high school friend’s “voluntary” death, saying, “He was young, perhaps a little rebellious, lonely and of course in love.” He also stated that it is “indecent” to take advantage of his death for political purposes.

Arabi became slightly better known after Rouhani was elected president in 2013. On April 20, 2014, Fars News Agency covered Arabi's hosting of a “royal, all-female banquet” in Sa'dabad Palace on the occasion of Iranian Women’s Day. The article, which portrayed the event as a glamorous party, caused an uproar. Aside from government figures, certain female activists, actresses, directors and writers were invited to the banquet, which included a fashion show and dance performance.

While Rouhani’s wife is once again absent from the campaign, the wife of conservative cleric Raisi has been playing a minor role in his.

The first time that Raisi spoke publicly about his wife was in a campaign video. He told viewers, “She first received her bachelor's degree in midwifery and then changed her field and got a Ph.D. from Tarbiat Modares University. She is currently a faculty member at Shahid Beheshti University and is also collaborating with the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution. Her writings and discussions are mostly about pedagogy.”

Subsequently, media outlets supportive of Raisi published an image of his wife and a brief bio:…

  1. Why the world needs to remember Sir Gerald Kaufman - Middle Easte
    05.23 / 23:39
    Britain’s oldest serving MP, Labour’s Sir Gerald Kaufman, died last night at the age of 86. Kaufman was distinguished due to the fact that he was both Jewish and an outspoken critic of the criminality of the state of “Israel”. He was born in Britain to Polish Jewish immigrants and raised as an orthodox Jew. ... The post Why the world needs to remember Sir Gerald Kaufman appeared first on Islam21…
  2. Iran buys gear to shield gas output from any new U.S. sanctions - Iran
    05.23 / 23:38
    Iran is buying equipment to avert a possible disruption in output at its share of the world’s biggest natural gas field, in the event the U.S. decides to impose additional sanctions on its economy, the head of state-run operator Pars Oil and Gas Co. s…
  3. Trump budget slashes Middle East aid - Middle Easte
    05.23 / 23:38
    The State Department is seeking deep cuts to military and economic assistance for Arab…
  4. Foreign Ministry’s Arabic-language Facebook page takes the low road - Middle Easte
    05.23 / 23:01
    Its posts are written in literary Arabic, but the propaganda, patronization and gung-ho patriotism on display won’t convert Arabs to the Israeli c…
  5. Chemical Attack in Syria: what “red line”? - Middle Easte
    05.23 / 22:38
    The footage was extremely difficult to watch; images of men, women and small children writhing in agony, gasping for air and in the last throes of their lives.[1] They were deprived of the sanctity, privacy and dignity of death by helpers pulling and yanking off their clothes and showering them with water.  Each and every ... The post Chemical Attack in Syria: what “red line”? appeared first on …
  6. Reviving Israeli-Palestinian talks now will go nowhere - Middle Easte
    05.23 / 22:31
    There are three major impediments to Israeli-Palestinian peace process that must largely be mitigated before the resumption of any negotiations: a) there is profound distrust of the other; b) both sides have a deep sense of mutual insecurity; and c) illusions are held by powerful extremist constituencies on both sides that seek to deny the... Read More The post Reviving Israeli-Palestinian talks now will go nowhere appeared first on…
  7. Letter to US President Donald Trump from families of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails - Middle Easte
    05.23 / 22:18
    "Do our prisoners have to experience martyrdom to achieve the most basic of rights and do we have to be reunited with them once they are corpses instead of welcoming them home alive?!" Read a letter written by mothers of Palestinian prisoners to U.S. President Donald…
  8. Wall of shame - Middle Easte
    05.23 / 22:18
    Michael Lesher writes ahead of Jerusalem Day, "please do not expect any kind words from me over the latest attempt to distract newspaper readers from the advancing flood of Israeli apartheid--I mean, the spat over whether or not Donald Trump thinks the Western Wall is in Israel. The real question is why anyone would think the retaining wall of the Second Temple complex, built by Herod (not Solomon) as part of an urban renewal project meant to broadcast his own glory, was worth a war. For…
  9. ‘Unexpectable’ Trump makes Netanyahu, and Adelson, very happy - Middle Easte
    05.23 / 22:18
    No Trump's not moving the embassy to Jerusalem, but Netanyahu got everything he wanted from the president's visit. An end to the rancor of the Obama years, a declaration of loyalty, and a signal that there will be no real push for any peace deal between Israelis and…
  10. Clashes erupt as Mike Huckabee leads 2 a.m. rush of 4,000 right-wing Israelis to pray in West Bank - Middle Easte
    05.23 / 22:18
    Former governor Mike Huckabee is filmed leading thousands of right-wing Israelis in prayer at Joseph's Tomb outside of Nablus in the early morning hours, prompting clashes between the Israeli military and Palestinians. Ma'an News Agency reports, "Clashes erupted between local Palestinians and Israeli soldiers who escorted some 4,000 right-wing Israelis to Joseph’s Tomb east of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank overnight Sunday, when at least two Palestinians were detained and s…
  11. Trump skips Nativity Church during brief visit to Bethlehem as Palestinians protest potential renewal of US-lead ‘peace - Middle Easte
    05.23 / 22:18
    The Palestinian Authority did its best to impress Donald Trump during his visit to Bethlehem, repainting roads, cleaning up the streets and hanging U.S. flags all along his scheduled path, but the opinions of Palestinian activists ranged from critical to enraged at the U.S. President’s visit and the possibility of renewed peace talks under U.S. l…
  12. Anti-IS coalition trains policemen for Syria's Raqqa - Middle Easte
    05.23 / 21:55
    Language Undefined First batch of roughly 3,000 people are trained in one-week course on how to police Raqqa once Islamic State group is driven…
  13. UK raises terror level, deploys military following Manchester attack - Middle Easte
    05.23 / 21:55
    Language Undefined Britain has increased its security threat level to 'critical' meaning a further attack may be…
  14. OPEC on verge of nine-month cuts extension after Iraqi backing - Middle Easte
    05.23 / 21:34
    OPEC is poised to continue their production cuts for another nine months after Iraq backed an…
  15. Can Iraqi politicians appease Sadr as he flexes his influence? - Middle Easte
    05.23 / 21:34
    Iraqi leaders seek to convince parliamentarian Muqtada al-Sadr to keep the calm and support the political…
  16. Saudi Arabia Is France's Largest Market in the Middle East: Diplomat - Middle Easte
    05.23 / 20:59
    A senior French diplomat has said that Macron’s election will be good for the country’s business ties with the Middle East. On May 7, Emmanuel Macron was elected as President of France, beating his opponent Marine Le Pen, a far-right politician. © Al Nisr Publishing LLC 2017. All rights reserved. read more…
  17. Trump's Israel Trip Was one Big Gaslighting Charade - Middle Easte
    05.23 / 20:59
    He wanted to rehabilitate an image tarnished by accusations of anti-Semitism. But the U.S. president's 'spiritual grand tour' stop in Israel was an absurd series of empty…
  18. What’s on Rouhani’s second-term economic agenda? - Middle Easte
    05.23 / 20:38
    While President Hassan Rouhani’s economic agenda features strong commitment to the building blocks of sustainable development, there are significant challenges a…
  19. Economic indices paint gloomy future for Palestine - Middle Easte
    05.23 / 20:38
    The latest economic reports from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics indicate a rise of prices, which may lead to…
  20. Iran's conservatives question election results - Middle Easte
    05.23 / 20:38
    Iranian conservatives appear unwilling to accept the landslide re-election of moderate President Hassan…